RUNAWAY VICTORY

Bulldogs' red-hot bats cool down Devils in DH

Palisade senior Isaac Maestas scores on a triple after an Eagle Valley error in the outfield during the first game of the Bulldogs’ doubleheader sweep of the Devils on Saturday at Suplizio Field.



Palisade’s Austin Bernal, 3, slides in safely behind Eagle Valley’s Jose Rivera, one of many aggressive plays on the basepaths by the Bulldogs.



Max Noland couldn’t help but think about swinging for the fences when he came up with the bases loaded.

The situation was simple: The Palisade Bulldogs were up 11-2 in the bottom of the fifth with one out. A run would win it. He picked a fastball and ripped a clean single to left that scored Austin Bernal to give the Bulldogs a doubleheader sweep over Eagle Valley In Class 4A Western Slope League play on Saturday at Suplizio Field.

The 12-2 win followed a 7-4 win in the first game. In that game, Noland also came up with the bases packed with Bulldogs. That time he sent the pitch well over the left-field fence for a grand slam.

As far as thinking about a second grand slam on the day, Noland admitted that it crossed his mind.

“Yeah, that would have been cool, but getting a hit was just as good,” he said with a laugh.

As for the grand slam, he hit the pitch he wanted.

“He threw me my pitch and I just squared it off and hit it,” he said. And he knew it was gone. “It felt so smooth off the bat.”

Palisade (10-3, 6-1 WSL) played well in all phases against the Devils (7-9, 4-5).

In Game 2, John Taber pitched a four-hitter over the five innings and struck out four.

“We kept the momentum going from the first game,” he said. “It’s our last time for us seniors playing at Suplizio Filed so we wanted to go out with a bang. It’s really a great experience playing here.”

Stevie Reynolds led a 13-hit attack with a triple and a two-run home run as the Bulldogs scored in every inning of Game 2.

“We went out and hit very well, all around, just looking for line drives,” Reynolds said. “Our pitching is doing great, and we’re hitting well.”

Reynolds’ home run keyed a three-run second to put the Bulldogs up 6-0. After his bomb, Isaac Maestas launched a deep ball to right field. When the Eagle Valley fielder stumbled and the ball dropped near the warning track, Maestas hit the burners and motored around second. With coach Aaron Howard wind-milling his right arm, Maestas never slowed down and came all the way home for the run.

Maestas had a nice game, going 3 for 3 with two RBI and scoring three runs.

The Bulldogs scored in a variety of forms in the second game, including Brett Wagner scoring from second on a wild pitch.

In the fourth, Daniel McLean laced a double down the right-field line that scored two to push the Palisade lead to 11-0.

Prior to scoring the winning run, Bernal stole second and third, then scored on Noland’s single. Bernal finished with four stolen bases and scored four runs in the doubleheader.

The first game was all about one huge inning at the plate and a pair of pitchers holding down the Devils.

Noland went five innings, gave up four hits, and all four runs, and struck out seven. But he had some trouble early.

“I was struggling at first and started figuring it out later in the game. My curveball wasn’t working too well but I was changing speeds on my fastball and that was keeping them off balance,” Noland said.

Sebo Campbell pitched two scoreless innings and didn’t give up a hit to get the save.

Palisade took a 1-0 lead after the first, then erupted for six runs in the second, keyed by Noland’s blast.

On the day, Noland finished with six RBI and Reynolds had four hits.

The Bulldogs have now won four straight — all WSL games — after a 4-3 loss to Rifle.

Taber said the team is playing well at the right time with five WSL games remaining.

“I think we’re in a good spot right now. We’re all starting to hit well and our pitching has been pretty consistent,” he said.


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